Amanda Seales: I Be Knowin’ (2019) – Transcript

Comedian Amanda Seales presents her stand-up debut: I Be Knowin'. In this hour-long HBO special, Amanda shares from her memories of romance in high school up to what it means to be a 30-year-old black woman in America today.

Now, y’all keep asking me, “Amanda, who is this special for?” And I keep telling y’all, “It’s for my sisters!” But it’s comedy, so it’s really for everybody. Okay, maybe not for everybody. Everybody except for racists, rapists, sexists, misogynists, narcissists. You know, folks that are callin’ the cops on black folks just livin’ our lives. Yeah, it ain’t for you. It ain’t for fuck boys, or trife gals, or that one ex, who still ain’t paid you that money back he owes you. Uh-huh. No laughs for them. It ain’t for Trump voters, or coons, or… people who don’t believe that white men can be terrorists. It ain’t for homophobes, or transphobes, or xenophobes. You know that wall is some bullshit. Hmm. It ain’t for bullies, it ain’t for poachers, it ain’t for abusers. It ain’t for people who keep asking me, “Amanda, can I pick your brain?” No! It ain’t for dudes who want head but don’t wanna eat no pussy! It ain’t for you! It also is not for people who don’t take care of their kids. It ain’t for people who take their shoes and socks off on planes. Who raised you? It ain’t for fronters. It ain’t for fakers. It ain’t for the phonies. It ain’t for haters. Nah, I’m frontin’! It is for the haters. ‘Cause, you know, y’all be tryin’ to stop me from gettin’ my shine. But guess what? I can’t stop. Won’t stop. You know why? ‘Cause…

Give it up for phat girl, a young girl… Amanda Seales!

I be… -Knowin’. New York! We did it. We here. My people. Ah! The real ones. The truth-tellers. The responsible hoes. I see you, boos. I always say, we “responsible hoes” ’cause we got levels. We know our credit score. All right. We get annual pap smears. Keep it tight. But when we hear… We know the proper protocol! Women got levels. Anyone who identifies as a woman understands, it’s a journey. Right? Being a woman is a journey. Lots of twists and turns. We dealin’ with things that people don’t even… know that we’re dealing with. Titties. Okay? It don’t matter what size your titties is. At the end of the day, when you take your bra off, they audibly sigh. You goin’ back to the motherland in your living room. Okay? There’s a crowd outside chanting, “Free the titties! Free the titties!” There’s a reporter in your room, interviewing your nipples, like, “How does it feel to be free from that padded cell?” “My God, it feels so good to feel the wind in my hair.” “There’s hair on nipples?” “Yes.” Then we have these periods. Right? I thought by now, I’d be used to it. I really did. But still it be like, ta-da! I’m like, where did you come from? And so I find myself, more often than I’d like to… in a public restroom, doing this. Wrapping toilet paper around a crotch. Because by 37, I’ve become a menstrual MacGyver.

Then there’s the whole… There’s a whole thing about going out. Okay. Some of y’all barely made it here tonight. I be havin’ to cheer myself on. Like really, in the house, like, “Okay, okay, okay, okay.” Like, really. It’s real. You do all of that and you’re like, “Okay, okay.” You get dressed. I don’t know about y’all, but I be havin’ theoretical outfits. That only really live in theory. My hypothesis sometimes fails. ‘Cause then I put it on and I’m, like, “Oh.” “Look at that.” Hit and a miss. But you’re not gonna change. ‘Cause if I change, I’m going to sleep. If I take the clothes off, I’m going to sleep. Okay? It’s gonna be me and Lando. In the crib. So… you have to find another source of confidence to be like, “This works.” For me, that is the, uh, gay black man that lives within me. LaTravious-s-s-s… I consult with LaTravious in the mirror, because LaTravious is a gay black man, and gay black men have more confidence than anybody on the planet. They have to ’cause they’re dealing with oppression from multiple sides. They got racism over here. They got homophobia over here. That’s why the walk is so mean. ‘Cause they be like, “No, bitch. No, bitch. No bitch. No bitch. “Come for me. Come for me. Come for me. Come for me. Beyonc√©.” “Wear that. That’s cute.” I’m like, “Okay, he fuck with it.” I’m ready to go. So, then you head out. Right? You hit that threshold and you’re like, skrrt. ‘Cause you realize… you did not paint your toenails. And you have an inner conflict because one part of you is like, “I am not hampered by society’s limitations of femininity. “I am my personality, not my appearance. For colored girls who considered suicide when the rainbow is enough.” The other part of you is like, “Mmm…” “These shits look pre-historic.” So you’ve got to come to a compromise within yourself. And that compromise is to just paint the two that are showing. He got to earn that pinky toe! He got to earn that pinky toe!

We’re dealing with real things. Women are still dealing with cat-calling. Why? Has it ever been proven effective? No! I was on a show on CNN… where I had to discuss cat-calling with the whitest white man of whitery. You know, like the kind of white man that wears two polos at the same damn time. One, a-two. So… He comes on the screen and he’s like, “Ah-ah-ah-ah. I think we can all agree…” Okay. Uh-uh. The minute I hear a straight white man say, “I think we can all agree,” I know, we do not agree. We don’t. So, this man is on TV, and he has the caucasity… …to say, “Eh, I think we can all agree that all women love getting compliments from men in the street.” Whom? When I hear such foolery, it makes me… first, just, go to the root. And I say, “Okay. This is somebody who doesn’t know what a compliment is.” And, you know, black women… …we are the masters at compliments. We… We have taken compliments down to a precise science of conciseness, where we don’t even say a full sentence. We just say at you… what we’re looking at on you. “Okay, polka-dots!” When it’s that easy, you gotta hand ’em out all the time. ‘Cause you gotta remember, it doesn’t diminish you any to pick another sister up. Compliments. How could he not know? For clarification… If I’m in Brooklyn… at midnight… and a Jamaican man… …appears from the shadows. Sweetness-s-s-s… “You look like a vanilla ice cream. “Me wan’ lick you.” “Ookoo, ookoo.” -That’s not a compliment. -That’s a threat. If I’m in Harlem… and some brothers pause their dice game– it’s the polite thing to do– and they’re like, “Yaw!” “Shorty rock and rough and stuff with one Afro puff.” “And the jacket and the pants with the dada-dada-dada-dada on it.” “I see you, maaa!” “What’s really good.” Yeah, it’s not a compliment. It’s an observation. Then they want you to smile. “Why you mad?” “Let me see them pearly whites.” “Yo, why you ain’t smiling, man?” You know why I’m not smiling? ‘Cause I just spent the last 20 minutes in a public bathroom fashioning a makeshift maxi pad… …out of a long-ass CVS receipt. Just so I don’t got to walk around here, looking like a dire wolf bit me in the pussy. “You still trying to holla, n i g g a? What’s up?”

They even wanted Harriet Tubman to smile, y’all. Remember when they were talking about putting Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill? There was a room full of white men who got together and said… “Ah-ah-ah-ah! “I think we can all agree… Harriet Tubman just doesn’t look happy.” You don’t say! Well, gee willikers! I just can’t think about why Harriet Tubman… doesn’t look chipper! Also, for the record, in our minuscule teachings of black history in public school, it’s not like Harriet Tubman was ever considered a jokester. Like, she was resourceful, you know. She was dedicated. She was revolutionary. She was heroic. “Frederic Douglas, the orator! “Martin Luther King, the leader! “Harriet Tubman. She had them jokes!” Never, not once. But Harriet Tubman brought so many folks to freedom. And you know that in her numerous travels, bringing folks across that Mason-Dixon line, she came across a number of different personalities. And I know at least one of ’em was a complainer. And there’s a very good chance that it was a man. Just picture it. It’s the dark of night. You can hear the dogs from the lynch mob. Ruff, ruff, ruff, ruff. Bitch-ass racists is running, “Get them n i g g e r s!” “They’re runnin’! Get ’em! Scat!” Harriet and… Willie. The odds are high. They runnin’. They runnin’, right? They runnin’ through the woods. You know, they runnin’ through the stream to try and lose the scent. Here come Willie. “Is we there yet?” “This sho’ is a long walk to freedom.’ “It’d be nice if you could lighten the mood a bit. Tell a little joke or somethin’.” Now Harriet, in an effort… not to shoot this n i g g a… …would go to her resources. Her handkerchief. Every picture you see, Harriet Tubman got this handkerchief on. I feel like it was magical. So in this situation, she would reach into that handkerchief. She’d pull out a joke. It’s on a scroll. “Okay, Willie. Why did the chicken cross the road?” Willie get hyped. “I don’t know, HT.” “Why?” “To get to freedom, n i g g a, that’s why! Now keep walking!” The joke stylings of Harriet Tubman.

Yeah, they really didn’t teach us shit. Black history, we had to figure it out, most of us. We didn’t even learn about… the Negro national anthem. They kept that real hush-hush. I didn’t learn about the Negro national anthem until I was in 10th grade. Yeah. My mother is from Grenada. So she ain’t know about that shit. My father is from Roxbury, Boston. I don’t know about that n i g g a. He didn’t keep up his end of the parental cultural bargain. So, I just had to figure some shit out just by being around other black folks, okay? But what I did learn is that no matter what type of black person you are, and I always say, Every black experience is a black experience, unless it is anti-black. Regardless, we all sing the Negro national anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the same way. We start it like we are at our man’s mama house for the first time. Shall we? Someone starts to double-clap. Stop. There are white people in here right now that are like… “They’re having meetings.” There are people watching this right now, they just found out there’s a Negro national anthem… and that it is not a song from Hamilton. I love how… on this next part, it’s almost as if its creators, John and James Weldon Johnson was like, “Shh!” We gotta throw some stank on it.” ‘Cause it all of sudden turns up… Skrrt, skrrt! Y’all better sing! Y’all better sing. Now listen. The night Obama won… Don’t think about it too long, ’cause it’ll… You’ll get a… It’s like when you masturbate to an ex, you can’t… you gotta get in that memory and get out. You gotta get out that shit quick. Don’t put your bag down in that memory. No, no, no, no. You gotta… Play with your mind, right? Don’t do that shit. Just go, a-heh, heh, heh, heh. All right?

The night Obama won, I was at an event. It was a very diverse event. Everybody there wanted to see him victorious, okay? So we were all cheering, excited when they announced he won. We all exalted. Everybody was watching the screen and they had a feed of all these different places that were celebrating his winning. And they landed at a church, and the church was singing “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” And so we all joined hands in kind, and started singing along, and that’s when I saw, the black people see the white people in this room who had thought, up until this very moment, that they was the most down-ass white people. Play ball! Got the whole nation in an uproar over the national anthem when we should be singing this shit, since it’s mostly Negroes on the field, anyway! Kaep would be like, “Whoa.” “Mission accomplished.” I learned about the Negro national anthem in the back seat of a purple Dodge Neon. My sophomore year of high school, sitting next to my… best friend. A white girl named Julia. And Julia was like… “I just feel like… “being friends with you all… I should know your anthem.” And I was like, “Yeah, bitch. We know your anthem.” That’s all black girls that grew up with white girls. I am you. You were the only black girl at the slumber party. You were going in the pool with a shower cap. Yes. “Keisha, teach us how to dance! Teach us how to dance!” Yeah. “You’re like black, but not like black-black. You know what I mean?”

I grew up with all the white people. I really did. I grew up with all the white people. So, I feel like I have a handle… on the white folks. So much to say that you can really categorize them as two… sides: There’s white people, and people who happen to be white. Now, people who happen to be white know and understand that there ain’t no truth to whiteness. It’s not based on anything biological or anthropological. It was only created for the sole purpose of oppression. Okay. But… people who happen to be white also know that as fake as whiteness is in reality, its privilege is real. So, they know to use their privilege to give access to those who don’t have access to that privilege. People who happen to be white, I call them Hannahs. White people… believe the lie that whiteness makes them better. They actually think it makes them supreme. And if you believe that something that was created for the sole purpose of oppressing others makes you better, then you ain’t shit. We call them Beckys. That’s what it is. The thing about it, though, is that… whether you are a white woman or a woman who happens to be white, you have been… basically protected. Like, the entire world has been taught to protect white women and women who happen to be white, at the threat of death. And so, what has happened is similar to like when kids aren’t exposed to germs and so their immune system doesn’t develop. White women and women who happen to be white ain’t been exposed to criticism. So now they all fragile and they be cryin’ all the goddamned time. And now all of us gotta deal with that shit. Every day at work. Now because of this fragility, no one is telling white women and women who happen to be white about their problematic behaviors. Well… tonight’s the night. Now, see, black women, we know the shit that folks don’t like that we do. ‘Cause they tell us all the time. We know y’all think we angry. But we are not hostile. We just passionate. We’re aware. We just don’t care. We know that you don’t appreciate when we communicate with the movie screen. Elevating it to an interactive experience. We are aware… but we don’t care. We know that it perturbs you, deeply… that our hairstyles change approximately every 2.5 weeks. Right now, there is a woman benefiting from white privilege who is storming into a break room in a huff. “Did you see Renita? “Last week, she had an adorbs pixie cut. “And today… “she showed up with dreadlocks! “And I didn’t recognize her on the elevator. And now she thinks I’m a racist.” Renita is in her office. She is aware. But she don’t care! She ain’t got time to care. ‘Cause she’s composing an email, that she has now written four times, and had to delete, delete, delete, delete, delete. ‘Cause she was tellin’ the truth, but it’s gonna send her to HR. ‘Cause now she has to employ that whole other language that any black person who is attempting to excel in this country has had to learn. We all have had to learn duality, so that we can talk on the block and in the boardroom, just to protect y’all. ‘Cause y’all done turned passive-aggression into a synonym for professionalism! So, Renita got to go, delete, delete, delete, delete, delete, every time she write that first line. And we have all learned this skill, so much so, have you ever met n i g g a s in LA? Them n i g g a s talk like a white woman ordering at Starbucks. Legit, okay? They sound like Anthony Hopkins at McDonald’s. I mean, it is incredible. They have perfected their elocution. I believe because the LAPD has perfected its racism. So it’s a survival tactic.

I was walking down the street one time, and I heard a brother behind me going, “Excuse me, excuse me.” I turn around, and see him going… I’m like, “What in the Oompa Loompa?” And then I realize, I’m in LA. He tryin’ to hit his gangsta pose. But I keep walking, so he keeps having to recalibrate. “Shit.” So I said, “Let me just let this n i g g a live, man.” So I’m like, “What’s up, playa? What’s up? What’s that?” And he said… “First and foremost… …you’re an incredible specimen of femininity.” I’ve never been hollered at… …in such a way. I was like, “Oh. Uh…” “Okay.” And then I passed him a copy of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. He was like, “Oh.” “Friends, Romans, country– “Buntry men. Lend me your motherfucking ears!” But back to Renita, and this email. She at the computer, y’all. She’s stressed. She wanna say… “Why you not readin’ my shit?” But she can’t say that. So you know what she has to say? Delete, delete, delete, delete. “Per my previous email…” But there’s a behavior that white women and women who happen to be white are doing. It’s an infraction that you’re committing on a regular basis that all of us in here would love for you to stop doing. It’s plaguing offices everywhere. Please. We beg of you. Stop cc’ing all these unnecessary people! On these goddamned emails! Stop! Stop! Why you sharin’ on this goddamned email? She ain’t got shit to do with what we’re doing over here! What you tryin’ to do, Becky? What you tryin’ to do? ‘Cause I got the receipts! I got the receipts! Ah! You ain’t think I had that shit. Well, n i g g a s got me fucked up. Ooh! Exactly. Shit. Heh. She ain’t know I stay ready. When you a black person in any office, you stay ready. ‘Cause you’re always wondering, “How black am I gon’ have to get?” And what that really means is, you’re going through a series of checkpoints on how you gon’ check somebody. On a scale of Stacey Dash to Nat Turner. I was on a flight once, and I was the only black person on the flight. No, I know. It was one of those things where, like, you don’t really notice it, like, you minding your own business. You like… “How black am I gon’ have to get?” ‘Cause you know something was gonna go down, you know? So I sit down in my seat. And this couple sits next to me. I can tell immediately that they’re not American white, because American white has a couple of washes. It’s a little dingy. And these people looked like they sprung forth from an Alp… singing “Frozen,” skied down onto the tarmac on a sleigh, and then boarded this flight. We all know that if you’re in the aisle, you can get up and sit down as many times as you want. You can go to the bathroom, come back, it’s fine. Whatever. That’s your aisle. If you’re in the middle seat, I mean, you played yourself. I don’t know what you was thinkin’. This is silly. You should have thought earlier, you should have booked faster. I mean, this is foolish. I can’t promise you armrests. I can’t. You need to sleep on the tray table. Yep. Compress. If you at the windows… you run the windows. Okay? If there are four windows here, I run these windows. These is my windows. Everybody know that. So we begin to taxi… and it happened. A hand… reached across my body… …to close the window. How black am I gon’ have to get?

Now this is a good time in the show for me to share with you all… that I am trans. Trans-thug. I was born in this body, but within me, is Suge Knight. So when that hand reached across my body, without even thinking I was, like… Pass that shit back! No joke. She gon’ get all huffy. “Uh, eh, uh, uh, uh…” “I was just trying to close my window.” Whose window? Mm! So I was like, “Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh.” I was really getting revved up. Really getting turnt, and… When I decided how black I was gonna get, I said, “You know what?” “You ain’t tryin’ to get on the no-fly list.” So, we’re gonna handle this… um, at Michelle Obama black. They go low… We go high. We go high. I decided to… dig into my masters in African-American studies from Columbia University… …that I am still paying for… …and handle this intellectually. So I said, “You know, ma’am, “I think this is just a cultural difference. “Here in America… “we are all about personal space. “And this… “is my personal space. And you invaded my personal space.” That’s when her little boo-thing, Prince Harry, gon’ chime in. “Ah-ah-ah-ah. I think we can all agree…” “You don’t have to tell her about personal space.” Ooh! Okay, Prince Patrick. Go ahead. Now, I couldn’t discern what language they were speaking, but it sounded something like this: “Zu-ba-da-ba-da-ba-a-ba-la… personal space.” “Za-ba-da-la-da-ba-a-ba-la… okay.” So, you don’t want me to explain personal space. But y’all don’t even have the words “personal space” in your language! But I’m a peaceful soul. So I say, “I’m gonna let them have this.” So we took off. Now, later on in the flight when we began our initial descent, I was asleep. But remember, I’m a thug. So I sleep with… That’s right. One eye open. So I hear Prince Richard… say, “Ah-ah-ah! Can you please close the window?” And I awaken… thinking he’s speaking to me. When I realized, no! He’s addressing a flight attendant. Betrayal. So I get turnt. Oh, my God. I’m like, “Oh! “Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh! “Oh, oh! That’s what we doing. That’s what we… okay, okay, okay, okay, okay.” Yeah, I was like, “How black am I gon’ get?” We about to be Suge Knight Turbo out here, all right? You know how like, when the Hulk turns green? I started turning into a red suit, okay? A cigar starting forming in his fingers, okay? I was like, “Oh, heeeell, no!” “Oh, heeeell, no! You wanna be with somebody where the people ain’t in all the videos.” Like, it was really… It was about to go down. But through my rage… I thought I saw an apparition. And I realized, no, no, no. This is real. I was wrong, y’all. I wasn’t the only black person on that plane. And this wasn’t just a black flight attendant. Y’all, this was a n i g g a-ttendant. He looked like just the day before, he was bouncin’ at a strip club. And he turned to some stripper and was like, “I just wanna see the world.” And she was like, “Go and get yo’ wings, baby.” And here he was. Tyrone. The odds are high. Flying the friendly skies. So Prince Matthew over here… gon’ ask again. “Excuse me.” “Can you close the window?” And… Tyrone and I… exchanged that look. That look that all black people do… when something so cauca-tious… …is taking place that we can’t even use words. We must communicate on a higher Vibranium level. And a peace came over me. ‘Cause in that look, I knew, I didn’t have to wonder how black I was gon’ have to get. Tyrone was black enough for both of us. When Prince William asked, one more again… “Excuse me. Can you please close the window?” Tyrone said… “Nah.” Tyrone, Tyrone.

N i g g a s. I love n i g g a s. I do, I do. I love n i g g a s. People be like, “Amanda, you always givin’ n i g g a s a hard time. You a man-basher.” I’m like, “Nah. I’m just very particular about my vagenda.” Your vagenda is a woman’s list of who could get it. Okay? You got to be particular. Shit, I know I got to be particular, because fuckin’ with me is a privilege. Also, I’m older now. You understand? I’m grown. I’m a grown-up woman. When you grown, you don’t make mistakes. You make choices. That’s why I’m lookin’ at every dick like the side of a cereal box. I wanna know your nutritional value, n i g g a. Are you exceeding my daily recommended dose of fuck boy? ‘Cause it’s zero. Got to be particular about your vagenda. And for the record, as easy as it is to get on a vagenda, it’s just as easy to get struck from a vagenda. I had a n i g g a say to me, “Yeah, my goal one day, is to have a house with no mirrors.” What are we talking about? What are we, what are we… talking about? If your house ain’t got no mirrors, how are me and LaTravious gon’ communicate? And get my shit straight. Struck from the vagenda. Someone said, “Oh, my God.” I know. I had another… I had another dude tell me, very nonchalantly, “Yeah, Stevie Wonder’s just overrated.” Sir! I can’t fuck you now! “Ribbon in the Sky” was on the playlist! Eh. True story. I had a man say to me… “Yeah, I don’t fuck with birds.” Now… He had a good job. He had a degree. He owned a home. So, I said, “Let me give him the benefit of the doubt.” And I retorted… “Oh, you mean like, promiscuous women? Birds.” And he said, “Nah, like birds. They be flyin’ and shit. “I don’t fuck with birds.” What are we talking about now? Struck from the vagenda! So you got to be careful. You got to be careful with who’s on your vagenda. Because the dick can touch the “hort.” Now when a dick touch the hort, it means it has affected you, not just physically but emotionally. Okay? Now when you young, and the dick touch the hort, it ain’t really that deep. ‘Cause you was just happy you got a period that you know you don’t deserve. Reckless asses. Reckless. Again in a public restroom, like, “Yes, I’m still in the game, n i g g a s! “I’m still in the game, I’m still in the game! “Ah! “I’m still in the game! I’m still in the game!” Hallelu-hallelu! My God knows me. He knew I wasn’t ready. He knew I wasn’t ready. He knew I wasn’t ready. Thank you. One more semester to go. One more to go. That happened to me in real life one time. I was in a restroom, and I was like, “Yes!” And the woman in the stall next to me went, “Do your thang, girl.” Okay. You gotta be careful. ‘Cause when you’re older, and the dick touch the hort… that shit’ll rock you. Okay? You got to go meditate. You be like, “Damn. This n i g g a done shifted my chakras.” “Where are my crystals?” So you don’t want that to happen with the wrong person. Okay? Because when the dick touch the hort, you can get a nasty case of STS. Not STDs. STS. Some call it “dick-whipped.” Some call it “dick-matized.” I call it “sexually transmitted stupidity.” Mm-hmm. Yeeeees. Because when the dick touch the hort, it can infect your intellect. Have you just doing dumb shit. Like be at a n i g g a house, and look down, and there’s a mattress on the floor… surrounded by Jordans, like a moat, protecting you from yourself. Now you know you should take yo’ ass home. ‘Cause this ain’t no place for a queen. And if you’re over 30, this isn’t even practical, because your knees and your back can’t even… What you gon’ do when you gotta go to the bathroom in the middle of the night? You gotta stop, drop… …and roll. It don’t make no sense. It’s ergonomically not for you. It’s not for you. But that STS, that sexually transmitted stupidity will have you lookin’ at it like… Negotiating. Yeah. It’s worth it. And now your ass is on your stomach gettin’ hit from the back with your forehead four inches from the ground. Be careful. Bap, bap, bap. That ain’t a hickey. That’s a bruise. So, please… Please! Protect your vagenda. ‘Cause the dick can touch the hort. Now, men, you know you’re not exempt. Okay? You’re not exempt. Because… yes, the dick can touch the hort, but any woman who knows her worth… knows her power… The pussy can snatch the soul!

Thank you! Stay blessed! Holla! What up! Y’all. Thank you so much. Some folks… Some folks thought this wasn’t gonna happen, but… Thank you all so much! Have a good night!


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